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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 8, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We have two great drivers coming in here in the middle of the summer for a race. Ryan and Tony are here to talk about the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and we're very appreciative of them coming to do that.
Tony, we're going to start with you. You've been talking a lot lately about the success of your team and it's surprising a lot of people. When you looked at the schedule for this year and set expectations, did the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard jump out as one of the goals for the team?
TONY STEWART: You know, honestly this was a project that was so big that I'm not sure that we really actually set goals other than what I had instilled in Bobby Hutchins and Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson and Ryan. I wanted us to go to the racetrack each week, give 100 percent, and our competition meetings are on Monday. I wanted us to go back on Mondays and sit down and discuss everything that happened during the weekend; talk about the things we did right, talk about the things we did wrong, and talk on both of those sides how we can make things better for the next week. So that was my goal was just to make progress every week.
You know, the success that we've had up to this point of the season has come much quicker than any of us I think would have dreamed, but we're very pleased with it, very excited about it. I feel fortunate about it.
Ryan has done a great job coming in and working with the new group of people, and I look at Ryan's season up to date and I look at mine, and I've had the easy side of it. Ryan has absolutely been like a warrior through every weekend. He's battled through adversity at every race, and that really makes me proud, not only of him as a teammate and a driver but also of his crew on the U.S. Army car and how they're able to overcome each weekend. They've been able to do things I think battling adversity during the races that I think a lot of teams can't do and get the result and the outcome that they've had.
From our side it's been pretty painless up to this point. Our Office Depot Old Spice team has done a great job, and I'm really proud to work with Darian Grubb. I'm excited about our relationship so far and how quickly it's grown in such a short amount of time that we're extremely excited about the progress of this race team and the organization and watching how the organization has grown over the last year now.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, you have family close by. You have a favorite fishing hole out here in the infield. How do you approach this race, or do you approach it any differently than any other races?
RYAN NEWMAN: I bring different worms for the pond out here. They don't always work (laughter). Realistically, it's a place that -- I'm a big racing historian. I like the history of the sport, and I've always said to know that people A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti and Jim Hurtubise and Mel Kenyon, all those people have been through here at some point walking the same path out to the pit lane and driving the same line on the racetrack.
That to me means more than anything else, just the history of all of auto racing here at this racetrack. It's a great race. It's a unique racetrack. We all know that. It's a lot of fun, especially when you're up front. It seems like the straightaways become forever and you can just sit there and relax and drive the race car. I just look forward to coming here with our U.S. Army Chevrolet and trying to run good. We're working our way to kind of solidify ourselves to be in the Chase, and that's our goal at this point in the season is to make sure that we can lock up that position, or a position. It's a great racetrack, a lot of great fans, both Tony and I being from this area, meaning Indiana, with the open-wheel side of things, the racing that we've done all across every part of Indiana pretty much. I would speculate there's very few racetracks in this state that either one of us hasn't raced at. It's just a great place to come back and enjoy the racing and the fans.
THE MODERATOR: I should point out right now that first of all this is being streamed live around the world. This is also part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup weekly teleconference so we will also be taking questions from the teleconference participants, as well, here in the room.
Q. Tony, do you approach this race any different as an owner rather than just as a driver?
TONY STEWART: No, honestly you can't. You know, it's obviously an important race for both of us. That's why we're here today to talk about it.
But it's kind of the same that you do what got you to the dance. You hear people talk about it when it goes to playoff time or anything like that in any other sport. You pretty much stick to what you've been doing and what's working for you. You don't come here and try to do anything any different. That's when you get yourself outside the box.
You know, the great thing for me is I've got a great support structure at Stewart-Haas. The great thing is it allows me the flexibility and Ryan the flexibility to just come here and worry about doing what we do best, and that's drive.
It's hard to play the owner role and the driver role on the weekends. I mean, I don't want to sit there and worry about what the tire bill is for the weekend. I want to worry about making sure I know what I need to do as a driver. You know, we've worked really hard to establish that system before we ever got to Daytona, and it's worked to this point, so we won't change it when we come here.
Q. Ryan touched on this a little bit, just the history of this track, the centennial era. Do both of you just have a favorite story growing up or maybe even as a driver from this racetrack?
RYAN NEWMAN: For me I'd say one of the coolest things ever was I was around here a little bit when the IndyCars ran. I came to one race when I was probably about six years old and it got rained out. It was the year it rained until I think Tuesday and I had to go back to school.
But I was down here with my mom. I forget if we were picking up tires at Hoosier or what we were doing, and we drove by the racetrack and we heard a different noise, and it was the stock cars. I believe that was, what, '94, early '90s, '92, and the bottom line was we came --
TONY STEWART: You're such a historian.
RYAN NEWMAN: It's 15 years ago, man. We snuck into the racetrack and came over and talked to Jeff Gordon and some other drivers, and it was just neat because we got to be here firsthand for when the stock cars hit the racetrack.
TONY STEWART: I think every memory was huge. I mean, the thing that I remember most was every day after school was over, I rode my bike to school every day, and your parents beat it in your head to stop at stop signs and wait for green lights before you cross the road. I played Frogger going home basically with a bicycle trying to get home as fast as I could trying to get the TV on. That's my biggest memory is just growing up and watching, loving the opportunity to get home. I didn't care how much homework I had. It was the last priority when the month of May was going on and whatever coverage was on TV. You were just glued to it. There wasn't any one particular moment, it's just been something that's been a huge, huge part of my life.
Q. Tony, two quick Indy-related questions. First of all, do you share the confidence level some of the other drivers have voiced going up to Indy with kind of that tire issue being resolved and behind everybody?
TONY STEWART: Do you want to translate that for me?
Q. Do you share the confidence level that we've heard so many drivers voice about going up to Indy and the tire situations from last year being resolved?
TONY STEWART: Am I concerned about the tires? Not at all. I came up here for two days. Ryan has been up here quite a bit with Goodyear, and I can promise you they have put a full court press on making sure we don't have the issues that we had last year. I've gained a lot of respect for Goodyear over just the process of working on the tire for Indianapolis and the dedication that they've shown to making sure that that doesn't happen again.
We were able to run almost 30 laps and still not even be down to the cords and the tires, so I'm very confident that with a full field here that there shouldn't be any issues at all. You obviously can't guarantee that, but I can tell you that from the test session, and normally the test is a lot worse on tire wear than it is during a race weekend that we were able to run 30 laps and feel very comfortable, but they've got a tire that will be just fine when we come back here that not only is it going to be durable but also I think the way that the tire -- that the laps fell off time-wise I think is going to make for a great race, too, with the way that the tire performance falls off. It doesn't wear out fall off, but it just falls off because of heat.
I think they've come back with a combination that not only is durable but also made where it should be better racing at that time, too.
Q. I believe you went up to Akron earlier this year and kind of went through the process with the Goodyear folks. Can you tell me what you kind of took out of that whole process?
TONY STEWART: Well, it's nice to go up there to Akron and see how it's done. It's a process that makes you shake your head because you just don't realize what goes into making a tire. And the good thing is it's not done by a machine, it's done by a physical person that actually puts that tire together. There's a lot of machines that assist in that process, but some of the key components are still done by a Goodyear engineer that sits there and makes sure it's as perfect as it can be.
That put my mind at ease a lot, being able to see firsthand how the production of those tires is made.
Q. I was wondering, what's been your biggest challenge as a driver/owner? You mentioned balancing on the weekends, being a driver, being an owner. Is that kind of where the meat of that challenge comes from?
TONY STEWART: It's been a very easy part. I mean, we worked really hard before we ever left to go to Daytona to have that separation to where -- and I was really emphatic about when I spoke to Darian Grubb with the fact that I work for him on the weekends, and I'm not his boss, he's my boss on the weekends.
It's just knowing what each other's roles are, and it works best if I'm working for him. All the guys on the team, I worked really hard with my guys saying, Hey, I'm just one of you guys, I'm just one of the guys on the team. I'm your driver on the weekends. We've worked really hard on that relationship early in the season to make it to where it's as easy as possible.
But there really hasn't been that one hard thing or that one thing that has surprised me yet. It's been so smooth right now that it's -- the whole process has gone much better than I think we all could have expected. There's definitely challenges that we have each week that we're trying to overcome.
But honestly, it's not something that I haven't been used to. I mean, Eldora Speedway and partial ownership in Paducah, Kentucky, the racetrack there, and one in Macon, Illinois, and having two World of Outlaw teams and two full USAC operations, it's the same challenges, it's just at a different scale. It's not all totally new to us, but it's just the size of it is really the new factor of it.
Q. And why do you think it's been relatively pain-free so to speak? Is it just surrounding yourself with good people? Is that part of it do you think?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the one thing that -- being with somebody like Joe Gibbs for the last 12 years, you learn a lot about how to organize people. And I can promise you, Joe doesn't know anything about those race cars. He doesn't know how they work, but he knows how to hire the right people to do the right jobs in the organization, and that's what has made him successful in the NFL, it's what's made him successful in NHRA and NASCAR. He's extremely successful at hiring the right people to do the right jobs.
Part of that process is being able to take five rÃ©sumÃ©s that can be identical and being able to pick which guy is going to work with everybody else in the organization and has the right mindset, no matter whether there's eight more guys that have the same skills they have. That's something that I feel like I was able to bring from Gibbs Racing and apply it to Stewart-Haas.
Q. Kind of switching gears to Ryan, your friendship with Tony has been pretty well-documented, at least this year. How important is that relationship right now to the success of this team and you two guys, especially in this kind of unique situation?
RYAN NEWMAN: No different than anybody else on the team, whether it's Tony Gibbs or Tony Stewart or the guy that's sweeping the floor at the shop, we all have to do our part. Like Tony was talking, it's a people business. People make the big difference in everything that we do. They build the race cars, they work together to do pit stops and everything else.
Our friendship is definitely important. As I stated, our friendship off the racetrack to me weighs sometimes more than our friendship on the racetrack.
We have to compete against each other, which we try to do our best at to make sure we don't penalize each other for the way we race each other, but the bottom line is just getting along off the racetrack, it's huge for me, just gives us something else to talk about besides a right front swing or a sway bar.
Q. And lastly for you, Ryan, what's impressed you most about Tony Stewart the owner?
RYAN NEWMAN: I'd say overall just his ability to manage the people and get the right people, which is not an easy thing to do. But his level-headedness, his calmness when it comes to the different situations, just how he's adapted himself from a driver to a driver/car owner is pretty amazing.
I think that's the same thing that a lot of people have asked, just like was asked earlier, what's it like to be a driver/owner in your situation and be successful. It takes a big person to do that.
I didn't mean that size-wise, I meant that mentally. (Laughter.)
Q. Tony, my question is for you. I saw some photos from Daytona with Darryl Gwynn in victory lane with you guys after the race, and I'm curious what that meant to you, and as his foundation continues to grow and I know you're still a big part of that, what are your thoughts on the fact that 20 years after that crash now he's still contributing to racing and still doing what he's doing?
TONY STEWART: Darryl is as committed to that foundation as he ever was as a driver or a team owner. You know, I consider him a good friend. But he is one of those people that makes you count your blessings every morning when you wake up, and every time that you see Darryl it makes you put your life in perspective.
You know, I have not been in the situation obviously that Darryl has been in, and it's hard to imagine how life-altering is really is. But to see how much dedication that he's put into not making his life better but making other children and adults that really need a wheelchair, a new wheelchair like that, to improve the quality of their life and to see how dedicated he is to that is extremely impressive. I mean, it makes you proud to be a part of anything that he does.
Ryan and I both support the fishing tournaments that we have at Daytona and Homestead each year, and we're proud to be associated with him. I mean, I really respected him as a driver, but once his injury happened and through his foundation now and the work that we've been able to do, we've become closer friends through that.
Knowing that every time that you do an event that -- there's a lot of times you do charity events and money gets raised and you know what the amount that's going to be donated is, and that's kind of the end of it. But with Darryl's foundation, every event you see a little boy or a little girl or a young person receive a new wheelchair and you see instantly the gratification on their face and knowing that the quality of their life is going to be better. And that's due to Darryl and how committed he is to it.
It's something that I've been very, very please to be a part of and very proud of him and his efforts and his continued dedication to it.
Q. You seemed genuinely pretty upset with the way the race ended the other night. I just wonder if you had a chance to talk to Kyle yet.
TONY STEWART: I did. I got a chance -- before I went to Sharon Speedway last night I got a chance to catch up with Kyle. I checked first of all just to make sure he was all right.
But when something like that happens, you want to make sure that both guys are on the same page with what happened, and we definitely were. I mean, there was no question on either one of our parts of what happened. I mean, we were instantly on the same page with it. It's just part of racing.
But it was something that happened before that phone call even happened, and I've mentioned it to Kyle and even kind of laughed about it was the fact that everybody has made such a big deal about this all of a sudden happening. A good friend of mine reminded me of the very first TV race, the very first 500 that they showed on national TV, and it was Donnie Allison and Kale Yarborough, same type of incident on the back stretch for the win.
What happened this weekend, what happened at Talladega, none of this is new, and I think it's our responsibility to educate everybody that, hey, this isn't something that this is the first time this has happened. This is something that's been going on for a long time. There's little differences here and there about how the accident happened, but David Pearson and Richard Petty coming off of Turn 4 and both of their cars crashed and who could get it started and get it limped across the start/finish line to win.
There's just so many instances and cases where that's happened in the past, too, it's really no different than what we've got going on other than the fact that instead of two cars being involved, now we have 32 cars in the pack. That's the only variable that's changed. It's a product of superspeedway racing.
Kyle knew that my job was to get to his quarter panel, he was trying to move up to defend his spot, and nobody in his position would have just stayed there and let somebody drive back by him. You've got to do something, and he wasn't trying to wreck us, he was just trying to make me make a move to slow me down.
It was good to have that conversation with him yesterday. I was glad he wasn't hurt. And I got a chance to see Kasey last night and make sure he wasn't hurt, as well. It was good to touch base and make sure we were all on the same page, which we were.
Q. Thinking back to when you started racing as a young boy and how hard it was, do you wish that these young racing leagues were easier, like stick-and-ball sports, like summer league at Blackwell Park in Columbus?
TONY STEWART: Easier in which way?
Q. Maybe not as expensive, maybe more accessible for all families and not just families that have connections maybe to racing industries.
TONY STEWART: Absolutely. I think there's plenty of organizations out there. I mean, we're going to have a chance here in a little bit to go see a bunch of kids that are here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They're running quarter midgets right now. I wouldn't be surprised if at some point -- I would be surprised if Ryan does, but I want to try to squeeze in one and make a couple laps.
RYAN NEWMAN: I don't know if I'll fit. (Laughter.)
TONY STEWART: But there's a lot of -- whether it's go-kart racing or quarter midget racing, the hardest part is technology is the factor that keeps growing and getting better, and it makes racing better. But with that comes a price of cost. It would be nice to find a little better way at some of these beginner levels to control the cost to where it is more attractive for families to get involved. And I think that can happen pretty easily, just the sanctioning bodies like USAC has taken over some of the quarter midget stuff, and if they can get involved and find a way to not necessarily spec everything but to control the boundaries enough where they can control the costs, that would definitely make it better and you're going to attract more people that may not have the finances to do it like some of these teams do it now.
Q. And my last question would be in your opinion, Tony, how young is too young to start racing? Do you think five is too young to start racing these days?
TONY STEWART: I mean, the quarter midget kids out here, they get -- I think five is the age --
RYAN NEWMAN: I started driving when I was four and a half and I started driving quarter midgets, racing them when I was five.
TONY STEWART: You were doing illegal stuff at four and a half?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, my parents had an influence on me. That hasn't changed.
TONY STEWART: I'm going to have a talk with your mom.
Anyway, I've watched kids go through their -- what's the test that they go through before they're allowed to race?
RYAN NEWMAN: They have a novice division and quarter midgets.
TONY STEWART: Isn't there a test deal that you have to pass as far as official on the track and going between cones?
RYAN NEWMAN: I don't know what that's called, but yeah.
TONY STEWART: They have a process of making sure that even at the age of five that you know where the gas pedal is, that you know how to use the brake and all that. I think it establishes boundaries early.
But you know, I think at some of these bigger racetracks I think there is -- and you're seeing it now, even the United States Auto Club is talking about bumping up the age of some of the racetracks so that they go to up to 18 years old. You have to be 18 to run some of the larger racetracks with these cars. NASCAR has had the same discussions about upping the age to 18, I think, for the touring series. I'm guessing on that, but I'm pretty sure that's where it's at.
You need a little bit of that just to maintain -- you don't want a 12-year-old kid out there trying to go race at Daytona.
RYAN NEWMAN: It's not that you don't want a 12-year-old kid out there because there are 12-year-old kids that are just as good as we are, but it isn't every 12-year-old kid that is capable of doing that. When one family sees the opportunity for a 12-year-old kid to do it and he thinks his kid can do it but the kid can't, that's when we get in trouble, and we have to monitor that.
Q. I wanted to ask Ryan a question. The restrictor plate, Tony mentioned that we've seen this style of racing at Daytona and Talladega for quite a while, but what would make you comfortable as a driver in terms of changes? Is it the yellow line rule that's causing problems? Is it the blocking that's allowed? Is it the plate itself? What would make you feel better about racing at those tracks?
RYAN NEWMAN: I'd say in general the biggest thing for me, and it was kind of in all ways -- in more ways than one, no pun intended, an eye-opener at Talladega when the cars got airborne. That's the biggest thing is we don't want to be up in the catchfence. Knocking off the wall or trying to knock down the wall is one thing, but being in the catchfence is something you don't want to do for yourself and for the fans.
The line is kind of a product of the situation that we're in with restrictor plate and a big pack of cars. You know, it's -- and some of the crashes that we've seen, just for instance Tony and Kyle's crash, you go back to some of the other crashes, Dale, Jr., and Vickers at Daytona, to me those were just blocking incidents where a guy is trying to block and it's not the best choice to make and you end up getting turned around and end up causing a crash because we're in a pack of it seems 13 cars every time.
It's just a product of the environment. NASCAR has done a good job of making the field more competitive for every car, and when you do that you put the cars more in a pack. The fans like that. The racing is a little bit more exciting that way, and it's just a product of that.
It's up to the drivers to not put ourselves in positions to end up turned around or turn somebody else around at the same time.
Q. Tony, there's a lot of talk and there's been talk here today, too, about how tough the Cup level is because basically it is. My question is what's toughest do you think for drivers in general, and what's toughest for you still?
RYAN NEWMAN: What gives you a bad day?
TONY STEWART: What's toughest about what?
Q. What's toughest about driving at this level for drivers in general and what's toughest for you?
TONY STEWART: I think having to sit in the media center and try to figure out what everybody is asking.
I don't know, I mean, the hardest thing, I think, in the big picture, I'm not sure how detailed you're wanting, but it seems like at this level with the responsibilities we have and added responsibilities this year as an owner, it's budgeting your time is one of the biggest things. Once we get to the racetrack and we get in the race car, that's what we all love to do and what we're comfortable doing.
It's just knowing that there's 24 hours in a day and only 365 of those days in a year to get everything that you need to get done. That's your practice, your racing, your photo shoots, commercial shoots, appearances. There's a lot that goes on in those days, press conferences.
I told somebody the other day, they said, If there was one thing that you could change, what would it be. I'd said, We'd make 30-hour days and 400-day years to get everything that we want to get done. It's just finding the time with everybody's schedules as hectic as they are to be able to get everything that needs to be done. That seems to be the hardest part of what we do.
Q. And for Ryan, you've been in the Army now for about eight months. What were your expectations going into it what you thought you would have to do with that sponsor and what's been the most important revelation, I guess? What's surprised you about --
RYAN NEWMAN: I haven't exactly been in the Army, but biggest thing for me is just seeing what the troops and what all the Army soldiers do. At Fort Bragg it was neat to see the guns and some of the training missions that we went through. They were shooting live rounds in 30-by-30 rooms with rubber walls and they were soaking up the bullets, and I'm thinking to myself, wouldn't the bullet bounce off the rubber? Luckily it didn't.
But just in general what the soldiers go through and all the different stories and things like this, it's really amazing. They're all great people and they all give us the opportunity to do what we love, whether it's sit and write a press release or drive a race car. It was pretty amazing just the Army celebrating its birthday in Michigan and then Independence Day and all the things we've been doing with the Army. It's a lot of fun, a lot of great people, and I really enjoy it.
Q. Two questions if I may. First for Tony, I know winning your first Brickyard race was special and you'll never forget it, but how would winning it with your own team compare to your first Brickyard win?
TONY STEWART: It would be awesome. I know how gratifying it was to win the All-Star race at Charlotte earlier this year. I remember when -- a perfect example was the first year we won the Chili Bowl, which is the biggest midget race in the country, I won it for a good friend of mine, Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby, and then we were able to win it two years later and it was the first time I had won it driving my car. You know, it's just an unbelievable feeling knowing that you've had a hand in helping build it, built the program.
So it would be awesome. It was a dream come true. It's always been a dream to win in Indianapolis, and I've been very blessed and fortunate to win it twice now, and that's something that if I died tomorrow I would die a happy man because of those two races.
But it would be that much more special to win it as a team owner, too. It's been so much fun working with this group of guys, and even if I didn't win it, if Ryan won the race, I would have the same feeling of gratification just being a part of it and being able to help Ryan realize his dream. I think it would mean just as much to be the winning car owner for Ryan as it would be for me to win it as a driver and owner, also.
Q. Kind of following up on that, yesterday on NASCAR.com we actually debated the top story for the first half of the 2009 season. I suggested what you've done with Stewart-Haas Racing is the top story. What do you think about that? If you don't think that's the top story, what do each of you think is the top story from the first half of the season?
TONY STEWART: I don't know. I guess I don't think about it that deep. Ryan is the much smarter of the two of us, in case you guys haven't figured that out. I don't use words that have more than about five letters in them.
RYAN NEWMAN: You used emphatic earlier and I was really impressed.
TONY STEWART: I wasn't even sure it fit but I took a stab at it.
I honestly don't know. There's so much that goes on every week that I'm not sure I'm smart enough to know what the biggest story line of the year should be, really.
RYAN NEWMAN: I mean, I think that is debatable, but I think obviously the situation with the economy and everything else and how the sport is being affected and the world is being affected. But obviously that's not a positive story, so I'd go with the Stewart-Haas one. I don't watch the news, either, because I don't like watching all the negative stuff.
Q. This is for Tony. Morgan Shepherd qualified 10th Friday in Daytona, which is something that would have been impossible without your support. Morgan has been on your radio show as a guest. You surprised him a couple years ago by bringing him a birthday cake, and he's now running Eldora Speedway on the 89 car. I'd like to hear your thoughts on Morgan. Did you grow up a Morgan fan, how you became friends, and what's motivating your generous support for Morgan Shepherd?
TONY STEWART: I think we've all respected Morgan and what he's been able to do. I'm really good friends with the Wood Brothers, and I know he drove for them for a while.
Really how our support with Morgan started is another good friend of both of ours, Kevin Harvick, and two years ago Kevin started helping Morgan by building him a couple cars, and we were sitting around one day and we were talking about what Kevin was doing, and I said, Hey, is there something I can do to help that would help fit in with what you're doing. So that's how we came up with my side of it, of helping with the lease of the motors this year and the tire program, and Kevin still helping him with the use of his shop and his guys to help prepare and build Morgan's cars right now.
It's not just me, and I'm real -- I stress that strongly that it's not just me, it's Kevin that really was the one that spearheaded this and started this. But to see how hard Morgan works to come to the racetrack and come with a limited amount of people, you know, he has to beg, borrow and steal people to work on the pit crew for race day. But his passion and desire and obviously his belief in Christ, that's something that we're very supportive of, and I'm really proud to be a part of that.
We're not the heroes, Kevin and I are not the heroes of the deal, it's Morgan that is the hero of the whole program, and we're just proud of him as a person. That's what drew him to Kevin, and with that it drew us in, too. It's a part of our program. We sit there on Saturday and we'll be doing our debrief, and we know Nationwide is on the track, and we're like, Where is our team car at. We consider him part of our team.
Q. Did you grow up a Morgan Shepherd fan?
TONY STEWART: Well, I have to be honest, coming from Columbus, Indiana, and where Cummins Engine Company is headquartered, we were Mark Martin fans because of his association with Mark's car.
But Morgan was always one of the guys that you followed. You followed all of them. You followed Waltrip and Earnhardt and Rick Mast and Sterling Marlin and all those guys. It was like you had all your little die cast cars on the floor, and when the race got ready to start, you had your cars on the floor and you were playing with them like you were having the race.
Q. Do you still have your Morgan car?
TONY STEWART: I think we do still have the Morgan car.
Q. Tony, Ryan, as drivers, what is your feeling now that you've had a double file restart on a superspeedway? How do you like that? Second question for Tony, as an owner, what are your feelings with the limited test schedule that you have now, and also the fact that racetracks like Kentucky Speedway have been taken out of the equation because they have another NASCAR event?
RYAN NEWMAN: On the double file restarts, I think it's been great in more ways than one. I think from a driver's standpoint, I like it because you have the opportunity to move up, and when you pass one, you might be passing two if you go three wide, and I think that's made the racing more exciting. We're racing the guys we should be racing, and I mean that in essence of you're not racing the guys that are a lap down who have their own separate race to try to get a lucky dog.
Before when you had the lap down cars on the inside and the lead lap cars on the outside, if you started 6th you were starting 12th and you had to pass those other guys who were working just as hard and made their cars better, and you had less opportunity to move yourself forward throughout the day. To me some of the racetracks are more conducive for the double file restarts, but in general it's been across-the-board a good thing.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, and something that going along with what Ryan is saying, a lot of those times we know that green flag run can last 80 laps. We take off and budget our tires to make that 80-lap run and be fast for the whole run, not necessarily fast for one or two laps. A lot of times the lucky dog guys don't have that luxury and they were having to run 100 percent. A lot of times it created a lot of havoc for you if you were a lead car because they don't know when the caution is going to come out. It may come out one lap after the restart or it may come 61 laps after. But they don't know; they have to run every lap as hard as they can, and a lot of times that created an extra variable in the equation that we don't see now.
But I think that's a variable that was confusing to the fans, it's confusing to the drivers at times because sometimes you didn't know when you got to one of those cars, you didn't know if he was somebody that just stayed out and got track position or if he was truly a lap down.
I think it's been one of the greatest things and decisions that NASCAR has made in a long time. Like Ryan mentioned, the biggest thing is if you're a 5th place car, instead of lining up 10th, now you're lining up 5th, and everybody around you you're racing for position. It really hasn't been -- I think Loudon was probably one of the examples of you wanted to be on the outside most of the time, but there's -- even during those races and even with tracks that are going to be predominantly one particular group is going to be better than the other for a restart during the course of the race, it's going to work for you and it's going to work against you.
But all in all, I think you guys see it from the stands better than we do, but from what I've seen and being in the cars, it seems like it makes the racing a lot better for us.
As far as the second part of the question, I'm all for it, to be honest. I've got a lot of things on our plate, and testing is not one of my favorite items. It's a lot more fun when there's people in the stands and there's other cars to race around versus racing a stopwatch and collecting data. You know, I don't think it's hurt the racing this year. I think if anything it's helped because it hasn't allowed teams the opportunity to go out and find one or two things that really will set them up a step above everybody else. I think it's helped make the racing a lot better for these guys.
You know, I'm all in favor of it. I've never been a huge fan of going testing anyway, especially in an economic time like we have right now. That's a major way to help trim the budgets down and keep them in check to where it's the same for everybody that way, but it's saving money for everybody, too.
THE MODERATOR: July 26 will be the 16th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Tony and Ryan, good luck. We appreciate your time today.
TONY STEWART: I know obviously the biggest topic about this race is obviously the tires going into it, and I know we mentioned that earlier, but personally I truly believe that when we come back here that we're not going to have those problems that we had last year, and I know there's a lot of fans that are on the fence on whether they want to spend the money to come back to this event. I'd strongly urge you to come. I honestly feel like we're over that hump now, and like I said, Goodyear really put a huge effort into making it right.
So I think we're going to be -- I personally think we're going to be all right with it and I think it's going to be a good show, and I'd hate to see people make the decision to not come with the fear of it being like last year because I think they've got over that and past it, and I think everything is going to be just fine. That's my two cents on the personal side. I think it's going to be fine, and I don't think it's anything that the fans should worry about. I think they should come and anticipate a race like they're used to seeing here.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you. Good luck on July 26th.
End of FastScripts